Management by fear

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The general approach for a Swedish coach is inclusiveness, which involves and activates the brains in the team. I often watch team sports live and, on the TV, and have been a sport coach myself and know how to get the best out of Swedes – and it is certainly not by fear! Swedes want to be included and have their say, but sometimes it becomes too much of consensus and decisions are postponed. If you watched the Handball Euro Championships 2022 where Sweden won Gold, you could see very clearly during the timeouts how the coach stepped back, and the informal leaders instructed their team-mates in critical situations. The coach was in charge of placing the right players at the right time on the pitch, but when it came to details and how to play the game, it was naturally taken over by the players. The contrast was huge when Sweden played against Russia where the coach directed everything, including giving the players hell for their mistakes. A true culture Management by Fear. With fear of management the toxic culture thrives.

Recent research[1] shows that toxic cultures are the No.1 reason for people quitting their jobs and Management by Fear is probably the enabler for this. Here are signs of Management by Fear to look out for:

  • Don’t try anything new unless management approves
  • Quiet team – doesn’t express the members’ opinions
  • No one questions – no criticism
  • Hiding problems
  • No creativity
  • Just obey orders
  • Don’t bring forward ideas to improve/change – just follow protocol
  • Feel like a “slave” – small
  • Avoiding responsibility because you could be punished for mistakes
  • Stress – Blamed or Fired

I will elaborate on this topic more in one of my cases later in this book, where I also kill my darling Nicklas Lidström and his coach Mike Babcock.

This is a part of the book Psychological UNsafety from the trenches you can order or read more about here.

[1] Toxic Culture Is Driving the Great Resignation: